Chariho School Parents’ Forum

November 24, 2007

Still upset with the vote

Filed under: bond,Hopkinton — Editor @ 3:04 pm

Today’s Westerly Sun ran a letter from Doreen Dolan who appears upset with the vote in Hopkinton and asks for an “explanation” from the Hopkinton Town Council.  Her frustration seems to come from her belief that “every attempt was made to comply with, or at the least, to seek compromise to, their (opponents to the bond) concerns.”

She also says,

not one of those 3 opposing town coun­selors attended an informational meet­ing held by the Building Committee, not one of them attended a Building Committee Meeting or sat on a Building Committee Subcommittee.

I can’t speak for the TC members, but Mrs. Dolan ignores the fact that I did attend a Building Committee Meeting.   I told them that they should expect the 5th and 6th graders leaving the main campus and set the plans accordingly.   Greg Kenney, the boards chair said that the rejection of the $99M bond meant that the parents did not want the kids back.  Fast forward to a Building Committee Meeting on Oct 2 – someone expressed concern about the grade reconfiguration and Mr. Kenney said that there are many people in Hopkinton who do NOT want to return the kids.  So, it doesn’t seem that they were very tuned into what the parents want.  Which is really odd considering I was recently given a flyer from 1998 when Mr. Kenney was running for the school board and one of his platforms was the return of the 5th and 6th graders.

After the earlier meeting, Mrs. Kenney spoke with me about the issue and said that she taught 6th grade and that ‘you don’t want those kids around the younger kids.’

Of course, that makes my point – there is nothing inherent in turning 11 that makes a child make bad choices.  In other words, its enviornmental.

Mrs. Dolan goes on to say,

 I have one comment to offer this council as well as to this community.
Mr. Cordone, in our phone conversation, you mentioned how difficult it is to find volunteers willing fill seats on town committees, how frustrating it is to find people willing to run for council or school committee.
I think, given the climate in this com­munity, you will continue to have that problem. In fact, I can see that problem becoming worse.

Actually, I strongly disagree with this statement.  I think the lack of involvement from the community is because they don’t feel like they are a part of the school.  Their views are ignored.   To prove that point, look at the Hopkinton ad hoc committee to research the return of the 5th and 6th graders.  I don’t know about Mrs. Buck, but all the others had never volunteered before. 

Maybe those complaining that people aren’t joining boards might think that the board’s mission does not gel with the mission of those they wish to participate.

Chariho has known since 1999 that parents want their 5th, 6th and some want 7th and 8th grade brought back to the town level.  Chariho has ignored them.

Why does it take outrage from parents before something is done.  How long have we had Investigations Math? 

Mrs. Dolan also goes on to say,

Who wants to subject themselves to the hostility? You have a handful of peo­ple in this community with an agenda of their own. Anyone willing to express an opinion different from their opinion is subject to personal attack. They have no qualms about using inaccurate and deliberately misleading remarks, aimed at discrediting anyone who disagrees with them.

Bill Day also accusing someone of telling “lies” and he also did not say who it was or what was the lie.  We all know they read this website, perhaps they could provide some details.

I do recall that I pointed out that information about RYSE was not complete by not including the legal fees attributed to the program, among other things (although, the finances of RYSE are a side issue to me).   You can review the letters yourself but I think those of us who are most vocal opposing the bond did so based on our problems with the school and not with “personal attacks.”

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11 Comments »

  1. This comment was posted by Lois Buck – placed in a different area.

    Mrs. Dolan has an editorial in the Westerly Sun today.

    She basically says that we are the minority? Just because we disagree with the means doesn’t mean we disagree with the end. And as I see it we are not in the minority. She is.

    This is what I would like:

    1. The elimination of the portable classrooms. The means is where we disagree. I believe that if we take care of the 5th and 6th grades and move them to the elementary schools, then expansion in the middle school and high school are not necessary.

    2. Obviously, we are all responsible for the education of our children, all children, even special needs, RYSE children. The means we disagree with. I do not believe that a new school is in order. If we put the 5th and 6th grades back where they belong, then again there would be room in the campus facilities to house them. Thus, we would be able to remove 4 more portable classrooms, which we will not be paying for in 2009, anyways.

    3. We both want creation of additional space within the district. We disagree with the means. I believe it should be in the elementary schools, not on the main campus.

    4. I never said that I wasn’t against improvements to the high school.

    5. I prefer the lower amount of securing a bond between $15 million to $25 million. $15 million would have covered the high school improvements.

    She goes on to talk about compromise. I saw no compromise when it came to Tom’s suggestion to split the bond. Who didn’t compromise here? This whole debate probably would not have caused such a split between towns if they (the school committee) had heeded the advice of some of the school committee members who agreed with Tom to split the bond. I believe the high school portion would have passed. They only have themselves to blame.

    The way I see it Mrs. Dolan is in the minority, just take a look at the results of the election.

    RS, we agree that our scores have fallen off. Curious is right. The discussions have revolved around our falling scores, but may have not used your words exactly.

    Our arguments have been many.

    For example, leaving the 5th and 6th grades in the elementary school is a must for the benefit of their academic achievement and growth. There is evidence to this, they are just choosing to ignore it, probably because it is easier. Whoever said that meeting the needs of our children was ever going to be easier.

    The math curriculum is another issue. I hear of problems even in the 1st grade. I have absolutely no confidence in this math curriculum and I believe it is at a detriment to our children.

    Comparing demographically equivalent districts that happen to be near Chariho geographically, we are 6th among the 6 districts. Westerly isn’t that far ahead of us. So what if we are higher than other communities in RI. We are in poor shape compared to other states in America. The nation continues to fall short among other nations in the world. We are all falling behind the rest of the world. Perhaps, this is the result of America’s poorly researched switch to the use of middle schools.

    I will never take anything away from our teachers. I believe they are doing the best with what they’ve got. I’ve met many of them and I see the love they have for our kids. They often use some of their own money to buy books for their classrooms.

    I see the efforts of the P.T.O.’s. Sometimes they have a lot of fundraisers, but we don’t have to buy from them if we don’t want to. And there is an effort to cut back on their fundraisers. Their money goes back to the schools to buy books for the kids to bring home and for the teachers in their classrooms, and to buy playground equipment, etc… This I believe this is being brought up in the next School committee meeting.

    There is so much going on, we don’t even know about. Be we know a lot more because of Mr. Felkner’s diligent eye.

    We have to seriously address the issues. The open communication provided to us here was the start to this process.

    And finally, I’m for tax equalization. We are a district. Let’s start treating everybody fairly. We need a taxing district.

    Lois Buck

    Comment by Bill Felkner — November 24, 2007 @ 3:05 pm | Reply

  2. Mrs. Buck and anyone else who say they would support a bond, just not this bond, please reconsider.

    Prior to finding Mr. Felkner here and the people on Hopkinton Speaks there, I would have supported a bond too.

    I no longer feel this way. Mr. Silks is right. Hopkinton dooms itself if we agree to any bond…ANY BOND…without the tax inequities being addressed.

    Individual taxpayers in Charlestown can spend $3 for every $1 we can spend on education. They will bankrupt Hopkinton over the next 20 years of any bond. How could we possibly continue on a path where our neighbors buy everything at Chariho at 1/3 of our costs? We can’t.

    I didn’t even know any of this until it was brought to my attention in recent months. I ask everyone to give it some thought before negotiating with Richmond and Charlestown and implying that their may be agreement without tax equity being addresses.

    Many Charlestown politicians have said they won’t even discuss tax equity. I implore Hopkinton politicians to respond that we won’t even discuss spending more at Chariho without tax equity. If they do, they doom Hopkinton to economic misery.

    Comment by Curious Resident — November 24, 2007 @ 3:22 pm | Reply

  3. I don’t know where the idea came from that the Hopkinton bond vote was split by where you live in Hopkinton? I voted against the bond. My family voted against the bond. Some of my neighbors voted against the bond. Many of my friends and acquaintances voted against the bond. Most of these people live in Hope Valley. I also have acquaintances in Hope Valley who voted for the bond. My experience is that opposition was not limited to Ashaway or Hope Valley or Rockville or Hopkinton City or any other single location in Hopkinton. Is there some reason why Ashaway gets the credit for stopping the bond?

    I’ve said publically that I was against the bond because I am a parent who favors fifth and sixth graders being taught in elementary schools. I have three children and my own personal experience which tells me this is by far a better idea for children. Since then Lois has found studies which prove what the majority of us intuitively knew to be true. I did not trust that Chariho would not expand the middle school so I voted no and asked other people to vote no. I have no evil purpose in voting no. I care about what happens to kids. Am I hostile? No. But when Hopkinton votes no we hear how Hopkinton doesn’t care and everything wrong at Chariho is Hopkinton’s fault. That sounds hostile to me and it is wrong.

    Now I’m not so sure I would support any bond because of the tax differences with Charlestown. It was probably good that the bond included the middle school spending because I would have voted yes otherwise I think. I won’t vote yes until the family in Charlestown has the same burden as my family.

    Bill is right about volunteering for the town. I volunteered for the ad hoc group but only because the other members were flexible and meetings could be the first and third Thursday did it work for me to serve. My work and family schedule inteferes with most days except some Thursdays and maybe the weekend nights. I’m sure many people are like me with work and family obligations.

    Also it is discouraging to see the same people always deciding everything. You wonder if you can have any impact anyway. We vote against a budget and they vote again. We vote against a bond and they want to vote again. We want fifth and sixth graders at elementary schools and they do nothing. We see our children failling behind in math because of a terrible curriculum and they keep teaching with this curriculum. We hear about Chariho janitors doing poor jobs as they admit it themselves here but nothing is done. This stops people from even trying. Why try if nothing changes?

    Comment by Jim LaBrosse — November 24, 2007 @ 4:27 pm | Reply

  4. Amazing revelation about Mr. Kenney running for the School Committee on a platform which included bringing the 5th and 6th graders back to Elementary School. Mrs. Kenney’s response about the 6th graders was also telling. I wonder if Mr. Kenney had Mrs. Kenney’s permission?

    I spoke to a relative over the holiday who teaches Middle School science. He said without pause that 5th graders should not be in a Middle School environment. He then said that he was more on the fence about 6th graders.

    Upon further discussion it became clear to me that his resistance was based on what is easier for teachers and not easier (or better) for 6th graders. When I pointed out to him that his reluctance seemed to be based on the adults, to his credit, he agreed. Teachers have it easier with 6th graders in the Middle School format.

    Mrs. Kenney has never met a bond or budget she didn’t embrace. Her agenda seems to be all about the school and the school employees. She seemingly has little regard for what is best for children. She’d be the last person I’d take advice from regarding what is best for students and parents.

    Comment by Curious Resident — November 24, 2007 @ 4:46 pm | Reply

  5. Has there ever been a bond whatsoever that Doreen Dolan and cronies were skeptical? It appears to me we get the same people over and over again with the same diatribe (Doreen Dolan,Chris Anderson,Stephanie Brown, Louzon)&, of course, school officials all of whom will support any and all bonds- I don’t think they even care, what’s $99 Million? $26 million?, any Million – as long as we get some bond.

    I suppose we are to have a “Who Cares” attitude. Who cares if we need what? Who cares if Chariho is not accountable? Who cares if our students are measured against the lowest standards in the COUNTRY- oooh, but, we are high-performing? Who cares if we have one the highest per pupil expenditures in the COUNTRY? Who cares if our students are taught to accept mediocrity? Who cares if they are taught the most deplorable Math Curriculum (TERC-INVESTIGATIONS and/or Connected MATH? Who cares if Chariho provides social/mental health services on the back of local taxpayers? Who cares if Chariho plays surrogate parent? Who cares that our students are constantly being piloted on (in other words, experimented) with? Who cares if we neglect maintenance? Who cares if our schools don’t have adequate drinking water, water for cleansing & personal hygiene with evidence of live OR Dead mice in the Kitchen where our children’s food is prepared? Who cares if our 10, 11, 12 years olds are mixed with 17,18,19 year olds?
    Obviously, the Dolans, Andersons, Browns, Louzons, Kennys, administrators- just to mention a few- don’t really care. Since the Lack of a bond HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH THE ABOVE QUESTIONS, I can only assume they have only one special interest!!!

    Comment by chariho hipocrisy — November 24, 2007 @ 5:29 pm | Reply

  6. Q: Why are several Hopkinton politicians, most School Committee and Building Committee members, the Westerly Sun and the CHARIHO Administration failing to report that the CHARIHO Support Staff Union publicly voiced it’s opposition to the bond proposal several weeks prior to the vote on 11/07?

    A: They would rather have you believe that a few people from Ashaway and Hopkinton City plus two or three old lady’s are wholly responsible for the bonds defeat. This is Hogwash!

    Comment by George Abbott — November 24, 2007 @ 5:44 pm | Reply

  7. Excellent points CH. I knew Mr. and Mrs. Kenney constantly were looking to fleece Hopkinton, but I didn’t realize the cast of characters is usually the same.

    I know one thing, I’m new to challenging the status quo at Chariho. I suspect that Mr. Felkner is too. I’m sure many of us who have finally had enough with Chariho’s failure to be accountable and educate our children are new to the effort to change things.

    Think of all the failures you have listed…these clowns not only tolerate it, they want to reward failure. Why would they do that? Obviously it isn’t “for the children”…if it were, they’d be writing letters to the editor about mouse droppings and harmful math curriculum. Instead, they write letters whining that they need more of our money and how dare we not give it to them. “For the children”…what a bunch hooey.

    Comment by Curious Resident — November 24, 2007 @ 5:48 pm | Reply

  8. Wow…the Support Staff Union voted to opposed the bond? First I heard about it. Maybe they do deserve compensation like the administration. They are obviously better thinkers.

    Every Chariho employee should oppose a bond that wastes money. It is not in their best interest for Hopkinton to be impoverished by the bond. The unions have always been the ones to impoverish us. Plus, if we keep on this path, with Hopkinton taxpayers individually carrying a bigger burden for Chariho then Charlestown taxpayers, then the district will break-up and many Chariho employees could lose their jobs.

    Comment by Curious Resident — November 24, 2007 @ 6:03 pm | Reply

  9. I did not know that the Support Staff did not support the bond. George, did they give their reasons?

    This is my first opportunity to volunteer for service for Hopkinton. I’ve volunteered because I want to see change and I want to be a part of it. My eyes have been opened.

    I welcome any and all points of view. I don’t mind when people try to convince me to change my views as long as they are respectful. Thank you Curious for being respectful. I hope I will earn everyone’s respect.

    Just some thoughts: It amazes me that someone in Mr. Polouski’s position will stand up and say he’s for tax equalization, and in the same breath say he’s sick and tired of it. And he wants us out. The biggest problem is the tax inequities between the towns.

    Well guess what, I’m sick and tired of paying more for the same services as a family in Charlestown. It’s unfair. I buy food and clothing from the same stores as them. My oil bill is just as expensive as theirs. The gas prices are the same. Would any of them be willing to take my almost $4000 tax bill?

    I too did not know how unequal the tax situation was. I knew it was cheaper to live in Charlestown, but I didn’t know it was that lop-sided.

    I challenge Ms. Dolan to prove to me where I lied. When I sent the editorial in regarding the endorsement, where did I lie? I went to the actual minutes of the meeting. I went over the recording of the meeting. I played that DVD over and over to make sure I got the expressions down. I stand on my position.

    I truly believe that the 5th and 6th grades are a priority. I stand on my position that there would be room on the campus for the RYSE students, and there would be no overcrowding on campus. Again, they do not need to expand the middle and high schools and they do not need to build a RYSE school.

    My editorial in March was not wrong. We have every right to question the effectiveness and the cost of a program. We have every right to demand our kids be returned to a more academically and socially appropriate environment. So, prove to me I am wrong, Ms. Dolan.

    I’ve also stated that I believe in volunteerism. The track was installed from fundraising. This is volunteerism. Many of the sports gains in the past were brought about by the volunteerism of the many people involved with the sports boosters. I do not believe that a bond should include this type of renovation. If you are not able to fund it through the budget, then make cuts somewhere else or depend on volunteerism to provide the funds. Do not fund it through a bond.

    I got involved with the ad hoc committee because this is something I believe in.

    I believe in tax equalization.

    I am concerned about the education our kids are receiving.

    I believe there are inefficiencies, and any attempt to ignore them is just costing us more money.

    I don’t know what the future holds for Hopkinton students or Hopkinton taxpayers, but I will do my best to give them the best.

    Comment by Lois Buck — November 24, 2007 @ 8:40 pm | Reply

  10. Lois:They had signs opposing the bond when they picketed before a tentative contract agreement was reached.

    The administration was quite upset because parents ,who were picking up their kids after a big event at the High School, were driving past the sings urging people not to support the bond.

    Comment by George Abbott — November 24, 2007 @ 10:52 pm | Reply

  11. God Bless them for their boldness!

    I can only hope they continue to blog here and explain their reasons. They see things we don’t often, as their perspective is different.

    Comment by Lois Buck — November 25, 2007 @ 1:02 am | Reply


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